The Department for Work and Pensions and the Trades Union Congress has teamed up to launch a network of ‘Pensions Champions' to deliver information and advice to workplaces across the country.
Each ‘Pension Champion’ is a volunteer who will receive training on how to deliver non-regulated advice and information to workplace colleagues on pensions, and they will be able to use a new on-line 'pensions doctor' which helps individuals gather information about their own pensions situation, and can help suggest future action they can take to improve their retirement income.
The TUC and the DWP say the ‘Pensions Champions’ will help employees to use the pensions doctor website to build up a pensions profile by asking them to provide information about their state pension contributions; any personal pension savings and their membership of occupational pension schemes.
But it admits as very few people will have this information to hand immediately the website will allow users to add information to their profile as they gather it, and the ‘Pensions Champions’ will be able to assist colleagues in gathering information.
Then once a profile has been built up, the pensions doctor will produce a forecast - using standard industry assumptions – which will provide users with information about how they can best improve their pensions position.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, says because many people are not saving enough for their pension, the ‘Pensions Champions’ can help spread information and knowledge in Britain's workplaces.
He adds: “They can help workmates find out their pensions prospects, and help them save more. There are far too many people who do not join generous employer schemes, and Pensions Champions can help colleagues make the most of their employer scheme.”
And James Purnell, Minister for Pensions Reform, says: “Many people do not know where to go for advice and information about their pension, or are worried about finding it difficult or intimidating. Workplace initiatives are one way to overcome these barriers. This TUC scheme to train up volunteers and provide a web resource they can use to help give their work colleagues a personal pensions profile shows real promise.”
Have Your Say: Alan Lakey, partner at Highclere Financial Services, says:
"Why oh why can they not see the wood for the trees! People are saving less because advisers are no longer being paid to sell pension plans. No business is a charity and any adviser dependent on commission income will soon be signing on at the job centre."
"Those advisers fortunate enough to get by on fees will have a relatively wealthy client-bank. Advisers survive within a heavily regulated environment. If we accept that the bad apples were thrown out some years back it should be obvious that paying advisers sufficient to incentivise them to pursue pensions business would dramatically reduce the pensions gap."
"‘Pensions Champions’ sounds like a joke and, like most initiatives dreamed up by this lacklustre regime, it probably will be. Let’s get rid of this Marvel Comics fixation with groovy titles. Let’s get rid of temporary devices that sound cool but deliver little. Let’s get back to advising and promoting retirement savings plans because the way things are going the State scheme will not be around too long."
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